• Opeth - PALE COMMUNION

    Image: Opeth, Pale Communion, Pitriff, Review, Progressive Metal Opeth
    PALE COMMUNION

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    Opeth simply fails as a band, at least to me. While I'll admit to never fully understanding the amazement and awe so many have for this band, I've appreciated them from afar. I've listened, and I've at least wrapped my head around what they were trying to do. Their fusing of death metal with progressive elements always made for an

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  • Cannibal Corpse - A SKELETAL DOMAIN

    Cannibal Corpse, A Skeletal Domain, Review, Death Metal Cannibal Corpse
    A SKELETAL DOMAIN

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    So really, what does anyone expect when you get a Cannibal Corpse release handed to you? Ballads, love songs and fun? Not hardly. There's an expectation of severe brutality which the band delivers time and time again. Certainly, it comes with different levels of acceptance to one's ears, but ultimately the only thing that matters if it says

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  • Exodus - BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

    Image: Exodus, Blood In Blood Out, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal Exodus
    BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

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    Unless you call Testament a "thrash band" (which I don't personally), Exodus would rank as my favorite true Thrash band of all time. They have had good times and bad. Occasionally, like on FABULOUS DISASTER, they have misstepped along the way. But overall, they are one of the true powerhouses in the history of thrash metal. Since 2004

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  • Mr. Big - ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

    Mr. Big, The Stories We Could Tell, Reviews, Classic Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Mr. Big
    ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

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    As a fan of Mr. Big, I can't honestly say that many people thought that their reunion was much more than a cash grab opportunity for the guys in the band who, while immensely talented, failed to find solo success to match their collaborative efforts. It was never a question of if they could still play.

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  • Slash - WORLD ON FIRE

    Image: Slash, Myles Kennedy, Conspirators, World On Fire, Pitriff, review, classic metal Slash
    WORLD ON FIRE

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    Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and

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  • Davey Suicide - WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

    Image: Davey Suicide, Worldwide Suicide, Pitriff, Reviews, Modern Metal Davey Suicide
    WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

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    I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the

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  • Ministry - LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

    Image: Ministry, Last Tangle In Paris, Pitriff, Review, Industrial Metal Ministry
    LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

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    Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite

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  • Kix - ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

    Image: Kix, Rock Your Face Off, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review Kix
    ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

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    Kix might just be the last of the '80's bands to release new material. By now, it seems like everybody else you could name from the glory days of yesteryear has made a stab at making music in the new millennium. Of course, a lot of them, we wish they hadn't, and just left us to our misty-eyed

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  • Evergrey - HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

    Image: Evergrey, Hymns For The Broken, Review, Progressive Metal Evergrey
    HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

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    In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have

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  • Ace Frehley - SPACE INVADER

    Image: Ace Frehley, Space Invader, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Reviews Ace Frehley
    SPACE INVADER

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    Am I the only one that is tired of not only Ace Frehley, but all members of Kiss past and present? Since they were nominated for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF CORPORATE, it has been a steady stream of nonsense, bickering, anger, hurt feelings and now emotional trauma. It's over already. Get over it. It's 2014. Kiss is

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  • Blackberry Smoke - LEAVE A SCAR

    Image: Blackberry Smoke, Leave A Scar, Pitriff, Review, Rock Blackberry Smoke
    LEAVE A SCAR - LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

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    Right up front, Blackberry Smoke is not a metal band. They are a southern-rock band, in the classic, original sense. These days, the term "southern rock" has been applied to everybody from Black Stone Cherry to Nashville Pussy to Crowbar, all sounds that would be alien and extreme in the days of Skynyrd and

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  • Skid Row - UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

    Image: Skid Row, United World Rebellion Chapter 2, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review Skid Row
    UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

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    Part two of the three part Skid Row series known as UNITED WORLD REBELLION has been unleashed. Dubbed as RISE OF THE DAMNATION ARMY, UWR2 picks up where the first EP left off. There's simple math here. Over the course of these two EPs you have 14 songs. If you put the two together, you've got

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  • Downset - ONE BLOOD

    Image: Downset, One Blood, Pitriff, Review Downset
    ONE BLOOD

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    As a fan of Downset, I wasn't really surprised when the band split up in 2009. They claimed that "the band has run it's course". As a fan, I believe that. They definitely had a huge influence on a lot of the bigger nu-metal bands of the 2000s. Certainly, anyone that heard releases like DO WE SPEAK A DEAD LANGUAGE

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CD Review - Helloween

Image: Helloween, Straight Out Of Hell, Pitriff, Heavy Metal News, CD Reviews, InterviewsHelloween
STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL

When you history is as long as stoic as a band like Helloween's, people tend to come into each release with a series of expectations. They also tend to judge anything new they release by comparison to the rest of the catalog instead of as a standalone release. Certainly, that's justified. For me, I first remember discovering Helloween when I was stationed in Korea. They used to play their videos in a bar called the "MTV Club" in Itaewon, Korea. I watched for a year as videos for "I Want Out" and "Halloween" played over and over in this club. I remember buying KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS: PART 1 in some bootleg shop in Seoul, and literally wearing that tape out in only a few months. From that point on, I've never missed a release of a disc by Helloween, and I've compared every release to KEYS 1. Some have been hit and some have been miss, but all have pretty much maintained the core sound of the band. Even changes in core members hasn't derailed Helloween...at least to my ears.

Now, we come to STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL. Really, there's not a whole lot to say about this release to be honest. In short, this is Helloween doing what Helloween does. STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL is a solid collection of power metal that's worth a listen or six, but ultimately seems destined to be one of the more unmemorable releases from the band. That's not to say it's horrible. It's really not. That said though, it's definitely a downgrade from the last two releases - 2010's 7 SINNERS and 2007's brilliant release GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL. By comparison, these songs just sort of lay there. There's some cool stuff going on, but there's a little too much trying to sound like Helloween instead of simply "being" Helloween. On some of the songs, they try to hard to wedge a bit too much into the music. Take a song like "World Of War" as an example. This song is just way too busy. For one thing, the guitars of Sascha Gerstner and Michael Weikath are a mixture of classic power metal and modern D-tuning in some of the riffs. That does not work, at all. Some of the breakdowns leave the song sounding like what you would imagine Meshuggah would sound like taking a stab at power metal. That may work for some bands, but not a legacy band like Helloween. This problem surfaces over and over, which is surprising for Helloween. Songs like "Live Now" also feature new, lower tunings which are detrimental to the overall vibe of this release.

Another further distraction on STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL are the vocals of Andi Deris. While they are certainly clean and strong, they are just not as crisp and soaring as on previous releases. Further, there's a lot of echo and effects thrown in all over this album which is not, in my eyes, an enhancement by any stretch. Simply put, Deris is a brilliant vocalist who's voice doesn't need to be complicated by studio effects. When the effects are not overwhelming, his newly adopted passion for growling on almost every song is not overly welcomed either. Songs like "Far From The Stars" find him sounding like a cleaner vocal version of Jon Oliva than that of the once huge vocalist that has powered this band for more than half their career. Maybe it's just age setting in on Deris, but whatever the reason, STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL is simply not his best vocal performance in his history with the band.

PITRIFF RATING - 65/100 - As a huge fan of Helloween, I come into every release pumped up for greatness from one of my favorites. I didn't get that this time. STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL is not a bad release, but it's far less than expected from a band that has a standard with a bar raised sky high. Adequate listen, but not likely to find it's way to the player often.

Chris Akin

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